Playing with coloured water is a fun activity that can keep your kids entertained for ages. It is a great way for the little ones to explore colours while engaging their visual and sensory skills. Most kids love some good, old-fashioned water play. This could be a nice little water-based project that they can work on either indoors or outdoors, depending on your child’s age and how much mess they’re likely to create.

Pouring and mixing the three primary colours (red, yellow, and blue) not only teaches them the names of these colours, but how to also create the secondary colours (green, orange and purple). Twisting the jar lids open and shut, pouring the water and mixing the coloured waters together all improve their fine and gross motor skills. The hands-on mixing is a great way for them to remember the various colours, as well as creating new ones too. Additionally, pouring water repeatedly from one container to another is no easy feat. This is going to give their little arms a good workout and aid with their gross motor development.

I knew this water-based activity would grab the attention of my 20-month-old daughter, Indie. She’s now starting to identify and name colours, so this activity served as a delightful gateway at providing her with visual learning cues while putting her sensory skills to work. As a bonus, it made her (and I) feel like real expert colour scientists.

If doing this activity indoors, you can lay out all the supplies on the floor over some towels or old sheets to keep the floor clean. Luckily, this experiment requires only a few simple supplies that you likely already have at hand in your home.

You’ll need:

  • Water
  • Clear jars or jugs
  • Food colouring
  • Old clothes (to avoid staining new ones)
  • Working space
  • Towels or old sheets (if working indoors)
  • Scoops or spoons for pouring (optional)

Here is how you can go about doing this experiment:

  1. To start off, take three jars or any type of container and fill them up with water. It’s best to use clear jars or containers, since it’s easier and a lot more fascinating for children to see the colours mix into each other and develop into new ones.
  2. Add several drops of food colouring to each jar: one red, one blue, and one yellow. Pop the lid on and encourage your child to shake vigorously to mix evenly. Keep an extra jar or two aside for your child to scoop and pour coloured water into.
  3. You could use little spoons or ice cream scoops to transfer the colours from one container to another, or just go ahead and free pour. Providing them with some sort of utensil to work with would further engage their motor skills. It also gives them more control over the pouring.
  4. The next step would be to get those tiny hands to work and let the fun begin! Your toddler can start pouring and watch new colours come to life.

Indie shrieked with excitement as soon as she started to mix the colours together and produce new ones. This is a fool-proof, no-brainer, and no-fail way for kids to learn and have some fun at the same time. Now to set up an adult version, using alcoholic spirits.

About the Author


Mum to 4-year-old, Indie, Jen loves nothing more than hiking, playing netball or tennis, preparing activities for Indie and making cocktails.

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